If you own a B2B company, proposals may play an important role in your customer acquisition process. An effective proposal can win you profitable clients but without the right approach, you could lose sales from qualified leads.
Fortunately, writing a proposal doesn't have to be challenging. By outlining your goals and understanding your audience, you can craft proposals that highlight the benefits your brand brings to the table.
Writing excellent proposals takes practice, but by following the steps below, you can start crafting your pitches with confidence. As you write more proposals, you'll streamline your process and increase your conversion rates.
In this guide, you'll learn what makes an effective proposal and how you can use yours to communicate your team's vision, skills, and experience.
Don't focus on how the proposal benefits your brand. This is the most common mistake we see in B2B proposals. Your proposals should highlight how your company will benefit the client.
Follow a Problem, Answer/Solution, Process, Value/Cost model:
- In the first section of your proposal, discuss a problem (also called a pain point) your lead needs to answer. Your brand should have a solution to their problem.
- The next section should highlight ways your company will help solve their problem. Make this all about them. They want to know you have their best interests in mind.
- Next, talk about your process. How will you solve the problem? What steps will you take?
- Finally, talk about the price. Cost transparency is always a good idea, but it's important to sell yourself before you introduce the price. By the time your leads see the price, they should have an existing interest your offer.
If your proposals focus on your brand's achievements and reputation, you aren't offering your leads any value.
Offering value is the single most important part of crafting proposal. What will your brand bring to the table, and how does it benefit your client? Why should they work with you instead of a competitor?
Important Elements of Winning Proposals and How to Craft Powerful Documents
Once you have a general outline that emphasizes your value, you need to include the right elements to get your point across. After all, anyone can say they offer valuable services. What can you say to back up your claims?
Section 1: Executive Summary
Exactly how will you offer value? Start by looking at your lead's specific challenges and focus on specific solutions to their problem. The executive summary should be scannable and easy to digest, enticing them to read the rest of your proposal.
Your executive summary should be two paragraphs or less. If it's too long, you risk losing their interest.
Section 2: Scope
After you introduce your solution in the executive summary, the next section should describe a detailed outline of your ideas. Discuss in detail how your solution will help their company.
In this section, you should make the scope of your work clear. You should agree on how much work you'll do and for how much money. Without a detailed scope, you could lose hundreds or thousands of dollars from scope creep. Avoid it by being as detailed and transparent as possible in your proposal.
Section 3: Cost of Solution
How much will it cost for your services? In this section, give your client a personalized quote based on your average rates and be transparent and as detailed as possible. An accurate cost estimate is an important part of starting a healthy rapport.
Section 4: Delivery
How will you deliver your product or services? This should include the date, time, and method of delivery. Summarize your deliverables so the customer has a clear idea of what to expect.
Section 5: Terms
This section of your proposal protects you and your customer from misunderstanding each other. You should include your payment terms and other important terms of service. Ideally, an attorney will review this portion of your proposal.
Section 6: Expiration Date
If you want to write a good proposal, include an expiration date. When you don't state an expiration date, the customer could save your proposal for the future (when your prices are higher) and use it to request lower rates. Say something like "proposal valid for 30 days" to make it clear when your estimate expires.
Know Your Proposal Client
The key to a great proposal is understanding your clients' needs. What problems do they need to solve? How can you make it happen? If you want to sell your services, you have to think like a customer. If you were buying something from your company, what would you expect?
Using a buyer persona is a great way to understand your leads on a deeper level:
- Start by creating a list of characteristics your ideal clients have in common.
- Create imaginary personas embodying these characteristics. (For example, a digital marketing agency may create a persona for a local agency to step-up their social media marketing campaigns.)
- Use your personas to think about what your client needs.
Your proposal should say what your client wants to hear. Make them feel that working with you will bring great value to their brand.
Know Your Business Objectives
Knowing your client is only half the battle. If you don't know why you're sending the proposal, you aren't working toward a specific goal. Ask yourself, what is the purpose of my business proposal? Is it to introduce your brand, respond to bids from competitors, or follow up on a sales call?
By truly understanding your purpose, you can craft a powerful message and generate interest in your company.
Writing a proposal sounds challenging, but it doesn't have to be. With patience and the right strategy, you can craft proposals that will pay off handsomely and give you an unbelievable return on your investment.
About the Author
Marsha Kelly sold her first business for more than a million dollars. She has shared hard-won experiences as a successful serial entrepreneur on her Best4Businesses blog, where she also regularly posts business tips, ideas and suggestions, as well as product reviews, for business readers. As a serial entrepreneur who has done “time” in corporate America, Marsha has learned what products and services really work well in business today. You can learn from her experiences to build your business.